M.D.A. Marine Design Associates Ltd. v. British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.

NST successfully defended the British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. in this action for defamation. B.C. Ferries and several of its employees were sued by two suppliers for defamation arising from the cancellation of supply contracts. Following a lengthy trial, the court dismissed the claims, and B.C. Ferries was awarded costs.

Two marine design companies and their three principals claimed against B.C. Ferries and several employees for damages for defamation, injurious falsehood, and breach of contract. B.C. Ferries had used the services of two leading naval architects to design, repair and modify its fleet. When B.C. Ferries was unable to get the architects to acknowledge responsibility for problems, B.C. Ferries unapproved the architectural firms for future work. A senior executive communicated the reasons for the decision to employees, and the communication was widely distributed within the company and to outside consultants. The court held that the company’s communications were protected by qualified privilege and the corporate decisions were made with an honest belief that they were in the best interests of B.C. Ferries.

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